John M. Becker

PHOTOS: 'Brokeback' Opera Premieres Tonight

Filed By John M. Becker | January 28, 2014 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain, Charles Wuorinen, cowboys, forbidden love, Madrid, opera, Spain, Teatro Real

brokeback-mountain-opera.jpgEarlier this month we told you about an operatic adaptation of Annie Proulx's short story Brokeback Mountain being prepared at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain. Well tonight is opening night, and we've got photos and video to give all of us who can't hop the pond for the premiere a taste of what we're missing.

But first, a little extra context: as media interest in the opera mounted, Proulx, who wrote the libretto, and composer Charles Wuorinen sat down for an interview with the Associated Press to talk about the production and about how the medium of opera gave them both more room to flesh the classic love story out:

Ahead of its world premiere Tuesday in Madrid, author Annie Proulx told The Associated Press that opera presented an chance to explore the complexities of the tale in a way that neither her own story nor the movie by director Ang Lee were able to do.

Proulx said she "rejoiced" when composer Charles Wuorinen approached her to write the libretto, because she understood that an opera "would give room, which the short story did not, and which the film was not particularly interested in doing," to open up the characters involved in the doomed love affair.

Wuorinen said he tried to give the menacing nature of the rugged Wyoming landscape a greater presence in the opera than in the previous versions. "It is very beautiful, as the film shows," Wuorinen told the AP, "but it is definitely not sentimental. It is not a romantic landscape. It's a deadly one -- it's dangerous."

This forbidding natural backdrop is represented by Wuorinen's sometimes atonal style -- one that presented the singers with a steep learning curve. "The music is very challenging, there's no question about that," said Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch, who appears as one of the cowboys, Ennis Del Mar.

Love scenes between Del Mar and fellow cowboy Jack Twist, performed by American tenor Tom Randle -- which caused a stir when the movie was first aired -- are depicted discreetly on the opera's minimalist stage. Wuorinen's score makes use of a wide range of percussion instruments that convey sounds like the wind and rain on Brokeback Mountain.

Photos and video from Teatro Real's Brokeback Mountain opera are after the jump.

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Photos by Javier del Real, Teatro Real.


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